In going to duty at an altitude of 4,765 metres at the Kumar Post in the Himalayas, Shiva has struck a resounding blow for women’s rights
To say women have reached the heights is a cliché in the modern age, but this is literally what Captain Shiva Chouhan has helped them achieve in becoming the first to be deployed operationally at the world’s highest battlefield in Siachen. Her ascent symbolises the granting of equal opportunities to women in all fields, including in combat action in hostile terrain adjacent to a prickly neighbour.
India being a deeply conservative society that is just shedding old taboos, it may have taken a while to drop gender prejudices in the workplace. In fact, the Supreme Court may have nudged the Indian armed forces in several cases of opportunities being denied in chauvinistic fences being put up only to discriminate against the fairer sex.
In going to duty at an altitude of 4,765 metres at the Kumar Post in the Himalayas, Shiva has struck a resounding blow for women’s rights. Engineers have always been part of military operations as sappers and miners in advance positions on the frontiers, but an engineering degree is only one of her many accomplishments . She joins several other women who have been shining as fighter jet pilots in the Indian Air Force and helicopter and air transport pilots in the services.
Being in the forces, Shiva’s case should be considered most encouraging for the sheer romance of proving equal to men in daring tasks. The sheer visibility of her posting may lead to more young women aspiring to join the services and prove themselves the equal of men.
The glass ceiling may have been broken long ago in the corporate world where Indian women have proved outstanding leaders in biotechnology and IT sectors. But, even in a country that had in Indira Gandhi only the world’s second woman Prime Minister in 1966, it took decades more for women to break through in other fields.
It is a sign of progress as well as progressiveness of attitude that gender walls built by men have been broken thus. There is still some way to go before real equality is attained in all walks of life. Shiva will always be remembered as the first who broke the barrier in such an illustrious manner.